Hydropower Development and Knowledge Controversies in Transboundary Rivers

PI:  Professor Christopher Sneddon, Geography/ Environmental Studies

Project Abstract

One of the central challenges of the 21st century is how to promote sociotechnical transitions towards renewable energy that are cognizant of the political, institutional and environmental conflicts—at multiple spatial scales—that such transitions can engender. Nowhere is this challenge more evident than in debates over transnational hydropower development, where effective environmental governance requires high quality environmental data and the requisite institutional arrangements for sharing biophysical data within and across nation-states. Yet the practice of data dissemination and use within multilateral governance institutions is often plagued by geopolitical concerns that can undermine longstanding livelihood practices and overall watershed integrity, especially in cases where the construction of large hydroelectric dams will profoundly alter an existing hydrologic regime. Using conflicts over hydropower development in the Mekong River basin, this project brings together research and education activities to explore how environmental knowledge production and circulation influences the governance of, and conflicts over, hydropower development.